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Maskne: The Struggle is Real

Mask AcneCombating under-the-mask acne

It’s been two years under a mask.

While many people have diligently masked their noses and mouths amid the COVID-19 pandemic to combat the spread of respiratory droplets, a new battle has emerged: maskne, also known as mask acne. This very common condition is a recognized side effect of wearing a mask, particularly for an extended period, and can affect people of all ages.

The Culprit

Hot air gets trapped inside your mask when you breathe or talk, and it also can cause your face to sweat. The result is a warm, humid environment, which is an ideal setting for the growth of yeast, bacteria, and flora that causes skin issues and triggers other skin flare-ups, including acne, redness or rosacea, chafing and irritation, bumps, folliculitis, allergic urticaria (hives), and dermatitis – contact, atopic, periorificial or seborrheic.

The Treatment

Consider the mask itself. Your skin may be sensitive or allergic to the mask material, or the material may have been pretreated with irritating chemicals. Masks made of synthetic fibers can be particularly irritating. Laundry detergents that are scented or contain dyes are known causes of irritation.

There are several proactive skincare steps you can take to prevent or minimize maskne.

  • Cleanse your face to remove excess oil, sweat, and bacteria with a gentle, fragrance-free product after you mask for an extended period. And as part of your daily skincare regimen, cleanse morning and night. Avoid exfoliation and topical products that might make your skin too sensitive.
  • Moisturize for your skin type to rehydrate the skin, create a barrier between your skin and the elements, and reduce irritating friction. A moisturizer with ceramides, together with a mild cortisone cream, can protect against irritation and itching.
  • Skip or minimize makeup – foundation, concealer, powder, blush – that can clog your pores. As an option, wear non-comedogenic makeup that won’t block pores.
  • Review your diet and forego foods that are processed or high in sugar, both of which can worsen your condition.

Consult with the Experts

Maskne isn’t new to dermatologists, who have long treated acne mechanica – the original name of the condition – in athletes and workers who wear chin straps and helmets, as well as first responders who wear heavy padding.

Our team of knowledgeable dermatologists can assess your specific condition in-person or by a telehealth appointment and develop a treatment plan. This might include prescription medication to better control the condition or gentle skincare products, which our aestheticians can recommend.

There’s no reason to suffer from the irritation or annoyance of maskne. Call 281.363.5050 to schedule an appointment, and we’ll make your skin our mission.